Day two of the Rochester International Jazz Festival, and the Made In The UK series is already going from strength to strength. Last night was the turn of Liane Carroll and her trio to take to the Christ Church stage, and without wishing to get the Jazz Services hyperbole drive running too early into the festival, Rochester was in for a treat from the get-go.
The trio were fresh from a gig at the Ottowa Jazz Festival the night before, one of the other events involved in the Made In The UK series, so they were already warmed up and ready to go. The atmosphere in the gigs – yet another full house for both concerts- ranged from the lively and convivial (those familiar with Carroll's heart-warmingly engaging and down-to-earth onstage patter will know what I'm on about) to the suitably reverential, given the choice of venue, and all three musicians had the crowd hooked from the off, and the first standing ovation came about 6 six songs into the first set.
With Mark Fletcher on drums and Roger Carey on electric bass, the band worked through a busy set that included tracks from Liane's recent Parliamentary Jazz Award winning album 'Up & Down' as well as several old favourites, including a rollicking rendition of “He's A Tramp” from The Lady & The Tramp, dedicated to ESIP's own John Ellson, a brilliantly revamped version of the Ellington classic “Caravan” and a couple of set-closing medleys that included the likes of “What A Wonderful World” and “My Favourite Things” and had the audience employed as a 500-piece backing choir. With the spectacular acoustics available in the Christ Church venue, it was a beautiful thing to behold.
Unashamedly British but with a universal quality that speaks to audiences across the world, Liane's trio is perfectly suited to a series like Made In The UK. And that's not to call on the cliché that American audiences will lap up anything with an English accent either – far from it, the Rochester crowds seem genuinely intrigued in checking out new artists, in keeping with the festival philosophy mentioned in yesterday's blog. But as Get The Blessing mentioned me before they left for their next gig in Canada earlier in the day, one of the important things about playing abroad is having the confidence to be yourself and taking the opportunity to showcase your individuality in a new setting. Each of the Made In The UK artists brings something new to the international table, and that's a big part of what helps to bring in the crowds.
I can't end this blog without giving a mention to British bassist Janek Gwizdala. In town playing with guitar great Mike Stern, Janek closed the evening's hang with a mind-blowing display of sleight-of-hand card tricks, which would have been just as stunning and confusing to the assembled onlookers if they hadn't been gathered at the bar for the previous couple of hours... Just another little piece of UK magic for Rochester to enjoy.